The US Food and Drug Administration(FDA) is considering removing the ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood within 12 months following the Orlando shootings.
The policy restricts donations from men who have had sex with other men within the past year, similar to most Western countries after the lifetime ban was reduced in May last year.
Under pressure from Democrats in Congress, the organisation formally started investigating a change on Tuesday.
Across the world, the lifetime or 12 months ban has infuriated gay men ever since the policy was brought into place during the height of the AIDS epidemic.
Before there was screening for HIV in blood donations, thousands of people caught HIV that way. By the end of 2001, more than 14,000 people became infected with HIV through blood transfusions, many of them children.
Experts estimate that the risk of being infected with HIV if you get a contaminated blood transfusion is 90 percent. And a single blood donation can go into the arms of three different people, the American Red Cross said.
Tests have since improved and all blood is now screened, but tests for HIV don’t catch very early infections.
FDA policies also exclude other people at risk of transmitting disease from giving blood, including injecting drug users, people with travel to certain areas and people who’ve recently gotten tattoos.
The issue came to greater prominence after a June shooting killed 49 people at an Orlando, Florida, a club favoured by the LGBT community in June.
LGBT groups complained that many friends and loved ones couldn’t give their blood because of the restrictions.
The first step by the FDA is to open the issue for public comment including from medical groups and professionals across the country and ask the question is it fair just to ban people for a year after having sex.
In a statement, the FDA said, “The FDA is inviting comments on the feasibility of moving from the existing time-based deferrals related to risk behaviors to alternate deferral options, such as the use of individual risk assessment.”
It is early stages but one the rest of the world will be watching as many countries like Australia and New Zealand continue with the 12months ban.
Last Updated on Jul 27, 2016
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